Revelers have started to arrive for Burning Man after Hurricane Hilary failed to wash away the 80,000-strong annual festival of hedonism.
Stalwarts showed up as early as Wednesday waiting for the $575-a-ticket event to open its doors, undeterred by the water sitting on the clay bed site.
The week-long festival, a magnet for an estimated 70,000 people each year, purports to celebrate ‘self-expression, self-reliance and the rejection of corporatism and capitalism’ with activities such as spank banks, polygasms and, of course, the chance to watch a gigantic man built of wood go up in flames.
Friends – or strangers – often join variously-themed groups or camps, as they are known.
An aerial view of the campsite getting ready to host revelers for its 2023 event
The temporary city begins to take shape ahead of this year’s Burning Man
Sistress Mirage from Estonia moved to United States eight years ago and its getting ready for her third Burning Man
The week-long festival has become a magnet for an estimated 70,000 people each year
Ginaa Delehoyt from Portland prepares for Burning Man 2023
‘Moonshine’ from Nevada City getting ready for her eighth Burning Man
Renee Hansen has been to Burning Man 13 times while her best friend, Darla Fink, has attended for the past 16 years
Their art car Sparky Pony is just one of the fun vehicles at the event
Twenty miles from the entrance to Burning Man at an encampment used as a storage yard for abandoned vehicles from prior Burning Mans, members of ‘Root Piles’ a southern themed Blue Grass camp were getting ready to enter the Playa – the dry clay bed where the event is staged.
Team leader Alex Esch, 37, told DailyMail.com he’s been working non-stop for the past two weeks getting ready.
‘I can’t wait for it to begin; this is my second Burn and I plan on being here every year from here on out,’ says Esch, who drove 2,400 miles from Pittsburgh.
First time Burners father and son, John, 45, and Brandan Ocheske, 18, from Salem, Oregon, are helping with handyman work and construction on the camp.
‘We are doing this together as father and son, it’s a once in a lifetime experience,’ said the senior Ocheske, who has 30 years of construction business.
He found the ‘Root Pile’ theme camp on Facebook, contacted them and was invited to join.
Rootpile’s mission is to bring Bluegrass music, Bluegrass musical instrument instruction and Southern food and culture to the burn.
Liz Bugarti, 35, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and husband brought their son Silas, four
Light Up the World store owner has attended for the past 15 years
Eugemi from Ukraine an girlfriend Martina from Poland came for their first run at the event
An art car destined for Burning Man waits in a Reno-area store parking lot
Richard from Boston has been to Burning Man for the last ten years
Burning Man town getting ready for the start of the event in Playa City Black Rock City
Burning Man town getting ready for the start of the event in Playa City Black Rock City
Ocheske said the price of going to Burning Man is steep, $575 for a ticket plus transportation to the area and ‘camp’ fees (food included) which can be anywhere from $500-$2000 depending on what amenities each camp has to offer.
Some of those amenities include a toilet with running water, hot shower, three southern meals every day and a yurt to sleep in.
He said both he and his son, got a break on the camp fees since they are ‘working’ at the camp helping repair the bathrooms and shower trailers.
A blue check mark on the door means the toilet is working.
DailyMail.com also spoke with the colorful Gary ‘Pop Tart’ Allen, a 66-year-old with dyed pink scraggly hair wearing short shorts from Great Cranberry Island, Maine.
‘Pop Tart’ said this was his tenth Burn and he’s been staying in the area waiting for the festivities to begin for the past few weeks.
‘I love Burning Man, I live a Burning-Man lifestyle,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘The island where I live has only 50 people on it with no stores. We do what we have to do to survive, beg, barter and or build. I’ll be out here every year until the day I die or can’t make it anymore.’
While you can drive into La Playa and park your motor vehicle, you are not allowed to use it within the Black Rock Desert site. Only electric bikes, regular bikes and art cars are permitted.
Local Reno sisters Renee Hansen and Darla Fink, both veterans of the event with 13 and 16 Burns respectively, say they are bringing their art car they call ‘My Little Sparkle Pony’ to the event, poking fun at the ‘sparkle pony’s who attend the event.
A ‘Sparkle Pony’ is a person who comes to the festival with suitcases filled with fabulous clothing, makeup but who doesn’t bring the basic supplies necessary for everyday survival – food, water and sunscreen.
Goggles are available for attendees to purchase
Barbara Cornicioiu, 46 from NY, and her friend Tom look set to celebrate
The Burning Man office in the city of Gerlach
‘Sistress Mirage’ will be working at the Baazar where local designers sell goods
Stalwarts showed up on Wednesday waiting for the event to open its doors
Event-goers are tasked with leaving no trace of their stay on La Playa. No food scraps, cigarette butts, even feathers or wood chips may be left behind. All of this is Anything that is not original to the land – known as MOOP, matter out of place – must be taken out.
But that’s not always the case with young Burners according to Richard Quist, 42, who originally hails from Boston.
He’s attended 10 Burns and after seeing the amount of bicycles left on the Playa, he decided to turn one Burners trash into cold hard cash.
‘Thousands of bikes are abandoned at the Playa each year. We took several of the abandoned bikes from last year and repaired them and now we are selling them back to the people,’ he told us.
He is hoping to get $100 for each bike, he has several hundred sitting on an empty lot on the outskirts of Gerlach, the town nearest the site.
‘I’m hoping this week business will pick up, I’ve only sold ten bikes so far for $60 each, a lot less than the $100 I was hoping to get. The construction people at Burning Man don’t have the money like the normal event goers so I am hoping to make a lot more money this weekend.’
Buying a used bike for $60 to take into the Playa, Martina Bycznksa, 28, from Poland and her boyfriend, Eugene Shen, 31, from Ukraine are attending their first Burning Man.
Martina flew in a few weeks ago and is exited to attend her first burn. ‘I don’t know what to expect, but I’m going to have a good time,’ she said.
Their minivan was loaded with alcohol, food, watermelon and plenty of water. They planned on sleeping in their rented vehicle.
Cars, buses, motorhomes, vans and campers, etc. are allowed on the property to camp in – but not to explore or get from one place to another on the property.
Burning Man is known as much for the unusual outfits and Glen Gray, the owner of a pop-up shop called Light UP World, makes sure Burners have what they need to dress up. His shop sells custom clothing, Playa faux fur coats, dusk goggles and illuminated lights.
Gray. who has attended 20 Burns and has been in business selling his goods for the past 15 years, says he loves Burning Man.
‘As far as accessories I have everything you need to attend, I have custom made Tutus for Tutu Tuesday, a Burning Man tradition where all Burners where their best Tutu’s all day and night, and handmade faux fur coats that light up that costs up to $750.
‘During the days temperatures can reach 100 but at night in the desert it can get down to 50 degrees.’
Scott Seibt of Dallas works on the Burning Man vehicle ‘Janky Bus’ in a Reno-area parking lot prior to departure to Black Rock City
Vehicles staged up in a Reno-area parking lot waiting to depart for Burning Man
Campervans make their way into Black Rock City for the week-long festival
Moose Maravilla of Oakland waits for the rest of his Burning Man caravan to depart a Reno-area parking lot
Burning Man is not just for adults.
Liz Bogart and her partner brought their four-year-old son, Silas, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, in an old school bus.
‘We have been to 12 burns and Silas has been to three so far. There are a lot of kids at Burning Man, there is plenty of things for them to do.
‘As far as “adult activities”, that’s done while he is sleeping,’ she revealed.
Bogart said they spent about $25,000 on this trip, including the cost of the ‘several thousand dollar used school bus.’
‘Conductor’ works in construction, and Bogart said: ‘I sell weed for a living, I work all hours of the day.’
Barbara Cornicioiu, a 46-year-old attorney from New York City, will be at her third Burn. No business suit for her – she was wearing large, oversized sunglass, tight black shorts and a short tank top with a multi-colored silk coat and platform metallic boots.
‘I like to dress like this. I am wearing these clothes to go help build a camp. I love fashion. This is normal for me,’ Cornicioiu said.
‘I love going to see the art, the people, everything about Burning Man.’
There have been reports that up to 80,000 will be at this year’s event. While the event is sold out, there are several tickets available from online marketplaces, like Facebook for as low as $150 and parking passes can be had for $50.